Ko Antey Koti is an attempt at neo-noir genre rarely explored in Telugu cinema, hinged on a heist led by a man who puts money above everything. Cinematography by Erukulla Rakesh and Naveen Yada builds up the mood for this interesting premise with some portions shot in deliberate slow motion and others intriguingly in low light conditions. The background score by Shakti Kanth gives the edgy story the required tempo. Two fine actors, Srihari and Sharwanand, give in to their roles whole heartedly. If all the elements had added up, this could have been a game changer. But unfortunately, Anish Kuruvilla’s ambitious film falls short. Vamsi (Sharwanand) wants to redeem himself after having led a rugged life since childhood. After a short stint behind bars, he wants to start fresh. It isn’t easy, since he has to evade cop Ranjit Kumar (theatre personality Vinay Verma), who is at his heels.

Turning over a new leaf becomes a pipe dream when he comes face-to-face with Mayaluri Madan aka Maya Master (Srihari), who is habitually on the wrong side of the law and has made prison his second home. Maya is aware of Vamsi’s run from the cop and uses it to blackmail him to join his motley gang that’s planning a heist. Vamsi relents and offers to help the gang with his expertise in scaling tall buildings. The other members of the gang are PC (Nishal), who only has food on his mind, and Chitti (Lakshman), a wiry guy with one but a sharp eye.

As the gang gears up for the big loot, director Anish Kuruvilla takes us into lesser explored areas of Hyderabad and its underbelly. The film is stylish, grungy and an attempt at pulp crime-comedy fiction. But the story veers off track in trying to pack in crime, romance and comedy.

The makers have paid an ode to French cinema and closer home, to Delhi Belly. Take for instance the apartment where Chitti and PC reside. Messy would be a polite term to describe the shabby, unkempt place. The apartment is messy enough to have a well-fed rodent jumping on its tables. But Ko Antey Koti is not as whacked out as Delhi Belly was. Neither does it have a taut script that keeps you on the edge of the seat.The story moves back and forth, cutting away from a bruised and beaten Vamsi thinking of his lady love, now in the clutches of the goons. This scene, for a brief while, reminds us of a similar situation involving Surya in Gautham Menon’s Kaakha Kaakha.

The romance track between Sharwanand and Sathya (Priya Anand) is refreshing and the street theatre brings in a few laughs.

Sharwanand and Srihari put in assured performances and Priya Anand is vivacious and spontaneous as usual. Nishal and Lakshman do justice to their roles but their characterisation as PC and Chitti leaves a lot to be desired. Why would anyone pick liabilities like them for a heist?

Songs composed by Shakti Kanth are an asset.

Ko Antey Koti has memorable elements but doesn’t work on the whole. It’s a pity, since one hardly sees such experiments in Telugu cinema.

Cast: Sharwanand, Srihari, Priya Anand

Direction: Anish Kuruvilla

Music: Shakti Kanth

Plot: The protagonist wants to start afresh but gets sucked into a heist, which almost goes awry.

Bottomline: A neo-noir attempt that ends up as a mismatch of genres.